Why Analytics Projects Fail – #13: Over Reliance on External Help

The final reason I will articulate in this series of why analytics projects fail is an over reliance on external help. Historically the over reliance would happen when a team is “too busy” to learn the ins and outs of the analytics software they using.

An example would no one internally has the training to maintain or update the software themselves. Any fixes, patches or enhancements have to be done with the help of someone not on the company payroll. This has obvious limitations like not being top priority or made to wait longer the necessary, as well the potential slowdown caused be internal review and QA processes. Not having someone on the insides trained to handle external products is a major risk to an analytics project.

Another examples is when internal analyst don’t have the initiative to own the software. Meaning they just do the minimums, never really learn all the things the software can do and do not offer any new idea of solutions. Being totally dependent on a vendor to keep you up to date on all the new possibilities for use of the software is extremely short sighted. This often causes going the long way on a project instead of knowing about short cuts.


A third example is that your team is not empowered to work independently and their schedule is dictated by the availability of the vendor. Important deadlines might be missed or extended because the vendor resource is not available when you need them.

Regardless of the impact, relying too heavily on your analytics software vendor leaves open the risk of what if the external expert leaves. I have seen this happen a number of times, where analytics projects were halted or even cancelled because the expert was outside the company and left the project. The most common outcome of losing your expert is that things stop working and you have to either use workarounds or start over.

The key lesson here, if you are an analyst working with externally supported software, it behooves you to become the expert on it. This will mitigate any the risk of being over reliant on the vendor. It will also assure you of having more control of maintaining, fixing and upgrading your own analytics process yourself, which makes you more valuable to the organization you work for.

Analysts who know why things fail, are proactive, find solutions and become analytics champions are the ones you want to measured by. In the end, the best way to make sure your analytics projects don’t fail is to be awesome at what you do.

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